When it comes to exciting school events, a mathematics competition is rarely the first thing to come to mind. However, WMC (World Mathematics Championships) Qualifiers, previously known as SEAMC (South East Asia Mathematics Competition) is the rare exception. Every year, the best mathematical minds from schools of all stripes gather to participate in a vigorous and exhaustive weekend stretching the problem solving capabilities of all involved.
The competition involves nine perplexing rounds, each assessing the skills of the students not just in terms of mathematical knowledge, but other skills such as collaboration and communication. The rounds are varied and diverse - ranging from the traditional sit-down maths competition, to a hands on Innovation round, even to the cryptic and infamous Codebreaker round. Two rounds even incorporate running into the mathematics. Students work alone, with teams from their own schools, and even in random teams across schools not just to complete their tasks but to enhance their understanding of mathematics beyond the competition. It also goes without saying that the event is fertile ground for the formation of unbreakable friendships with like-minded individuals sharing a common passion for mathematics.
At the end of the event, students attend the gala dinner, where students wait with bated breath to receive the coveted medals awarded to those who have performed exceptionally. Medals in 6 categories - Challenge, Communication, Collaboration, Knowledge, Strategy, and Creativity (each of which is judged by 3 different rounds) - are on offer, at Gold, Silver and Bronze levels. This year in Kuala Lumpur at the WMC Senior Qualifiers, the UWCSEA East team of 12 students, accompanied by Ms. Tippi Zhu and Mr. Ian Walls, attempted to excel in each of these respects.
The current organisers of our vaunted school SEAMC program (James Matthew Young, Arunav Maheshwari and Justin Chan), guided by Ms. Tippi Zhu, worked hard to produce a rigorous gauntlet of training, testing, and teaching that enabled this year’s performance. Every Tuesday after-school, the team would meet to learn new concepts, ranging from geometry to number theory to calculation techniques. The underpinning goal of the curriculum is to inculcate the ability to combine and apply techniques in unfamiliar situations; building mathematical competence not just for the competition battleground but also for future learning.
In a previous article about the 2018 edition of the SEAMC competition, it was stated that “There is no doubt that this year’s competition was the most successful to date for the UWCSEA East participants”. Our school’s performance this year unequivocally surpassed this previously set standard of excellence.
Unparalleled in our school’s history at the competition, the results were outstanding. Aside from a panoply of 24 medals collected by the entire school team, our own Arunav Maheshwari came in first place, 3 other students (James Matthew Young, Justin Chan and Wooseop Hwang) placed in the top 20, and a further 4 (Saransh Malik, Aayush Dutta, Judy Cui and Steve Hai) earned golden tickets (passes that allow participants to advance to the WMC Finals in Melbourne, which will take place in December).
But the grandest achievement was announced towards the end of the award ceremony. Accompanied by a great shout of joy came the announcement of this year’s victorious school. For the first time ever, UWCSEA East won the prestigious competition, taking home the revered Warry Cup (named after the event’s late founder).
Following this resounding success, the SEAMC club will continue to train future teams for following years of competitions. Should you wish to participate in the SEAMC program, selections will take place at the start of the next academic year.